|Merrillville's Panhandle a hot property|
date: 09/10/1998 Source: www.TheTimesOnline.com
Article Title: Merrillville's Panhandle a hot property.
By: Cliston Brown
- Tonight could mark the starting point for serious commercial
development in the town's Panhandle area. The town council's Utility
Liaison Committee will meet at 5:30 to discuss the extension of sewer
lines by the Merrillville Conservancy District into the large, mostly
rural, eastern part of town. The Panhandle is located east of Mississippi
Street between 85th and 101st avenues.
officials see the Panhandle, which stretches to the Porter County line, as
a potential financial jackpot for Merrillville.
Councilman Archie Owen, R-6th, who represents the ward that
includes the Panhandle, says extension of a sewer main into that area
could open up lots of possibilities in the area between Harms Road and
Beaver Dam Ditch, west of Clay Street. He expects the rest of the rural
Panhandle will remain residential.
would open up probably 1,400 to 1,500 acres," said Owen, the Utility
Liaison Committee chairman. "It'd open up the whole area zoned for
light industrial." The
Panhandle area has had large tracts of land zoned light industrial for
years, but without infrastructure, development has been scant.
is highly likely to change when sewers come in, according to David Lasser,
president of Commercial In-Sites. Lasser's
company, based in Hobart, identifies prime sites for commercial
development. He says there is plenty of potential for the Panhandle's
development. "There are
a couple substantial-sized companies poised to develop in that area that
really need sewers," Lasser said.
said a large Illinois manufacturer is considering locating in the
Panhandle, and if the sewer situation looks promising, that firm should be
ready to announce its intentions by the end of September.
"A number of the prospects that are looking at it, (the sewer
plans are) what they're waiting to hear," Lasser said. Christine
Savarese, district coordinator for the Merrillville Conservancy District,
said she hoped the sewer project would be well under way in two years.
are already in the works, and work can get going if the town agrees to
allow the conservancy district to annex the Panhandle. That area is not
now part of the conservancy district.
Once that is done, the conservancy district is looking at issuing
$16 million in bonds to pay for the sewer main extension project, Savarese
said. Commercial development is expected to raise enough revenue over time
to pay off the bonds.
is something the town had hoped for for a long time," Savarese said.
Savarese said the sewer route would start near the intersection of
Interstate 65 and 61st Avenue, then run east into Hobart on 61st Avenue to
Colorado Street. From there, it would go south back into Merrillville's
Panhandle. Town Council
President Andrew Sylwestrowicz, D-1st, has estimated that extending sewer
service to the Panhandle could ultimately double the town's $249 million
assessed valuation. Owen
agrees there is plenty of potential if the sewer idea goes through.
"I think you'll see tremendous growth in the one portion, the
area we zoned light industrial," Owen said.
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